Corporate philanthropy as a cover for not contributing to the common good of your country
A list of the most charitable companies in America shows some of the biggest tax evaders in the country. These include heavyweights such as Goldman, Wells Fargo, BoA and Exxon Mobil; a company which made $41.1 billion in profits last year and paid only 17 percent in effective taxes, a far lower rate than the average U.S. citizen. The savings here vastly outweigh any donation which is subsequently offered in the spirit of “social responsibility”. The result of this neglect of public duty has been spending cuts across all areas of government, resulting in layoffs to teachers, the closing of hospitals and the slashing of benefits to the most vulnerable sections of society including children and the elderly. That these same corporate citizens turn around and give back a fraction of what they owe in the form of charitable donations (for which they of course can claim further tax benefits) is a cynical attempt to manage their public image in the face of the increasingly angry public backlash against their policies.
The private social safety net, provided by corporate donors as compensation for the public one which their tax avoidance helps shred, is a poor substitute for democratically accountable public spending. Besides being poorer, free of public oversight, and geared primarily towards public relations efforts, the private safety net is a rug that can and will be pulled out from under its beneficiaries at the slightest notice. Goldman Sachs, which generously gave $320M in charitable contributions in 2010 and $500M in 2009, drastically cut its charitable budget to $78M a year in 2011 in response to reduced profits while making minimal cuts to employee bonuses and other compensation. “Doing God’s work”, as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously described the companies activities is apparently an elective commitment based on market conditions. Whereas as a strong public safety net is managed democratically by its beneficiaries, corporate charity can and will disappear the moment it is deemed necessary which exemplifies clearly why it is no substitute for government spending.
i am fully in favor of csr (corporate social responsibility) but in no way is it a substitute for contributing a fair share of resources to the overall common good... an effort to polish a reputation to such a sheen that it blinds the public to what is in essence a repudiation of the social welfare of the country is, i'm afraid, the strategy for many corporations... particularly notable is the point hussain makes about the rug being pulled at a moment's notice... Submit To Propeller